case resolved  | 

Family of Joan Lucey settle High Court action over cervical smear slides

The court was told on Thursday the action which had been continued by her son and daughter when Mrs Lucey died last week has been resolved.

Retired nurse and widow Joan Lucey (73) died last Friday

Tim Healy

THE family of Kerry woman Joan Lucey has settled a High Court action over her cervical smear slides.

The court was told on Thursday the action which had been continued by her son and daughter when Mrs Lucey died last week has been resolved.

The retired nurse and widow died last Friday just hours after the HSE and the laboratories pledged to begin mediation towards resolving the case and after her lawyers had gone to court twice pleading for mediation to begin as Mrs Lucey was on her deathbed.

Mediation had continued after her death but the court was previously told it had been unsuccessful after ending at 10pm last Tuesday night.

Lucey family counsel Oonah McCrann SC, instructed by Aisling Maher of Cantillons solicitors, told the court the case had been resolved. She said the case will come back before the court on March 4 next when the settlement can be approved.

It is understood the settlement is without an admission of liability. The details of the settlement are confidential.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross congratulated all sides and the mediator on reaching a settlement.

Ms Lucey’s son Seán and her daughter Sinéad had taken over the legal action against the HSE and two laboratories over their mother’s 2011 smear tests. They had taken over her case as they are executors of her will.

Mrs Lucey (73), through her lawyers, had pleaded from her deathbed for mediation to begin in her case.

Mr Justice Cross had also last week urged mediation to take place in the case of Mrs Lucey who had terminal cervical cancer.

This week when he was told that the Lucey family were continuing the case and mediation had been unsuccessful when it ended on Tuesday night the judge told the parties this did not mean the parties could not re-engage with mediation in the case.

Mrs Lucey’s claims for general damages fell away when she died but the action was reconstituted as a fatal claim, with her children replacing her as plaintiffs.

The action was against the HSE, Clinical Pathology Laboratories Incorporated (CPL) and MedLab Pathology Ltd in relation to the alleged misreading, misinterpretation or misreporting of Mrs Lucey’s cervical smears taken in February 2011 and August 2011. The claims were denied.

Last week as the judge urged mediation, Ms McCrann SC said all Mrs Lucey was being offered on her deathbed was “hollow sympathy”.

Mrs Lucey, Cooleen, Dingle, Co Kerry had sued the HSE, CPL, with headquarters in Austin, Texas, USA, and MedLab Pathology Ltd, with registered offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin.

She sued in relation to the alleged, misreading or misinterpretation or misreporting of her cervical smears taken in February 2011 and August 2011.

It was claimed that notwithstanding undergoing regular smear tests as advised, cytological cell changes in Mrs Lucey were allegedly allowed to develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July 2019.

CPL had also joined as a third party in the proceedings consultant obstetrician Dr Mary McCaffrey of The Scotia Clinic, Tralee, Co Kerry. CPL had claimed there was an alleged failure to assess or investigate Mrs Lucey when she attended the clinic on April 29, 2011, and it was claimed it resulted in an alleged missed opportunity to diagnose pre-invasive disease.

All claims were denied.

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